You’re pushing 60 and look like hell

Although it suffers from a typically, feel-good Hollywood ending, 'The Company Men' is nonetheless  a better than average movie about business.

The plot revolves around a series of plant closings and massive downsizings at the fictional GTX (a multi-industry type conglomerate along the lines of Honeywell, Raytheon or Tyco). Indeed, Craig T. Nelson's portrayal of a Dennis Kozlowski-type, morally and ethically challenged CEO who rakes in $22 million per annum while ripping apart a once proud rust belt giant, is gripping.

The cast is rounded out by Ben Affleck (playing Ben Affleck, of course. The man has the range of paper airplane), Chris Cooper (who is superb in his everyman role) and Tommy Lee Jones (whose severely lined face reminds me of one of the maps we use to navigate mountain climbs).

ArowThe flick's seminal moment comes when a recently downsized Cooper strolls into a Challenger Gray-type outplacement firm and plops his world weary self down in a chair opposite a career counselor. The latter starts freshening Cooper's resume and making suggestions how he might reinvent himself. Cooper will have none of it. In response, the outplacement counselor slams down his resume, points her finger at Cooper and says, “You're pushing 60 and look like hell. Do you actually think you'll find something?”

I won't reveal any of the movie's twists and turns but, as I said it's well worth watching, especially for PR people. Here's why:

– I interview far too many Chris Cooper types who, after a career at a large holding company's PR firm or an in-house corporate communications department, have been set adrift in their mid 50s. They're floundering, have no readily transferable skills to a social media-driven profession, yet are still looking for upwards of $350k per annum.

– Far too many PR Millennnials have no real clue how the business of business works. Oh, they know social media and they get the rapid changing world of the blogosphere, but they don't understand PR's role within the larger organization. Nor can they read an annual report or balance sheet. Nor do they grasp the physical, emotional and psychological damage a downsizing will cause (unless one of their parents has fallen prey to rightsizing).

The Company Men is no Glengarry Glen Ross which remains, in my estimation, the single best movie EVER made about business. But, it is worth ordering on demand. And, as I said to my wife Angie as I watched Cooper suffer one indignity after another, “There but for the grace of god go I.”

11 thoughts on “You’re pushing 60 and look like hell

  1. Having skimmed significant passages of the Valukas report, I have a very good idea of what did and didn’t happen, Gaetano. Getting back to the subject of aging well vs. poorly, I’d say Bowie has weathered the ravages of time quite well. Patty Smyth and Eric Carmen (he of the Raspberries ‘go all the way’ fame), not so much.

  2. Yeah, Costner did look like hell. And, one could create new districts and borders on a map simply using the lines on Tommy Lee Jones’s face as reference points. Re: Wall Street movies, I just saw HBO’s ‘Too big to fail’ which had an all-star cast. Very well done. Paul Giamatti (aka My-ky) did an admirable job as Ben Bernacke.

  3. Finally saw The Company Men…speaking about pushing 60 and looking like hell…Kevin Nice taste of how the greedy bastards on Wall Street have destroyed the middle class. A better look at the financial collapse of 2008 is the documentary “Inside Job” a must see for what’s wrong with Wall St and their co-conspirator’s.

  4. Well put, Julie. Passion, energy and knowledge of cutting-edge trends should have no age limits. Too many people get set in their ways, assume they can stay in cruise control until retirement and, then, bam, along comes downsizing. The Chris Cooper character is the prototypical, middle-aged deer in the headlights who is caught totally by surprise. Btw, do you agree with my assessment of Ben Affleck’s acting skills (or, lack thereof)?

  5. This film sounds like a cautionary tale which we all can learn from, regardless of age: Keep up with changes in your profession; don’t rest on your laurels; don’t put all your eggs in one basket; and never stop learning.

  6. Spot on, Jepotts. It’s no longer just about PR or advertising or marketing or social media or direct. It’s about the conversation. Many old-timers have a problem accepting that reality.

  7. In fairness to my younger counterparts, I’ve encountered older PR professionals who also like an appreciation for their organization’s strategic goals. They assume that only the marketing folks have to worry about that, and insist on maintaining the artificial barrier between the two functions.